Falls in workplace energy consumption during Covid-19 lockdowns were almost completely offset by hiked home use, business supplier Gazprom Energy has calculated.
Last year, average workplace electricity consumption across all industries dropped 6% on 2019, Gazprom’s usage data reports. Annual gas consumption across all sectors fell too by 1%.
But businesses supporting the bills of their remote workforces have picked up the tab. 37% more personal energy by volume was used in 2020, due to increased reliance on home lighting, heating and the use of domestic appliances.
The business energy supplier is urging organisations get up to speed on true total consumption, by accounting for home consumption. Aiding the move, it has launched an online Net Energy Consumption Calculator.
“The misconception of a drop in total business energy consumption has the potential to distort some organisations’ advancement towards sustainability targets. It may give business leaders a ‘false reading’ of progress, if the broader combined consumption picture isn’t considered”, said: Daniel Sullivan, Gazprom’s head of sales.
While different industries faced varying closures, all sectors experienced a significant drop in consumption during the first and strictest lockdown period, in April and May 2020.
At 25%, electricity consumption in hospitality saw the largest fall. Financial services were next, with a 19% drop, followed by education, down 18%. Ill-fitted for home working, manufacturing experienced only a 5% reduction in energy volumes.
Changes in gas consumption also followed the same pattern, as restrictions evolved throughout the year. Manufacturing businesses saw a 9% fall in gas consumption in April and 15% in May. The drop was even greater among office-based businesses with an 18% drop in April and a 20% fall in May, when stay at home restrictions were in effect for non-essential businesses.
D-BEIS puts average annual household use at 3,731 kWh. A year-on-year increase of 37% adds a further 1,380 kWh per year to each household’s consumption.
During Britain’s initial lockdown, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported 51% of the nation’s workforce was working remotely. Professional services saw 79% of staff working in living rooms and from kitchen tables.
As strictest lockdown measures were eased, ONS found 62% of adult workers were travelling to work again by September 2020. By April 2021, this share stood at 55%. In the aftermath of July’s ‘freedom days”, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development reported that 63% of employers plan to implement a hybrid working policy.
As Britain resumes the daily commute, Gazprom is urging firms to be more consumption-conscious, and has shared some best practice business energy saving advice on its website.
Gazprom head of sales Daniel Sullivan said: “A fragmented workforce has resulted in fewer shared appliances and electronics.
“While consumption by businesses in the majority of sectors naturally declined during the tightest lockdown restrictions – a 30% decline in Q2 2020 versus 2019 –, consumption quickly returned to normal levels and the decline in overall consumption was less significant than many had anticipated as businesses adapted to the restrictions”.
Sullivan added: “These fluctuations and a reduction in business consumption of gas and electricity can also distort the perceptions of progress businesses are making towards their sustainability goals, with usage artificially lower as home consumption isn’t accounted for. Energy-saving measures that are present in the workplace may not be present in the home, such as energy-efficient lighting and smart metering, meaning efficiency is lost as a result of hybrid working. Businesses also benefit from economies of scale when their workforce is in one location using shared heating, cooling and energy for appliances and equipment”.